Minimalism is gaining massive popularity in the US and other parts of the world. A common mantra that is preached by minimalism is “don’t buy things, buy experiences”. As minimalism gained popularity, this mantra also became popular. Every person started to embrace the mantra of “buying experiences”. People started spending more money on travel, food, concert, and hobbies than ever before. Social media hashtags regarding various “experiences” became popular. Those mere mortals who were sitting in front of the television eating chips suddenly started feeling #FOMO when they saw their friends posting photos of feeding an elephant in Sri Lanka. Social media encouraged the trend of “buying experiences” and now Sharma ji ka beta was not only a class topper but also a globe trotter.
Numerous big and small businesses emerged whose only job is to “sell experiences”. My Pune-wala cousin who once peed in his pants watching the horror TV serial called “kille ka rahasya” on Doordarshan was suddenly going on a haunted castle tour in Scotland. In my office, our Diwali gift was no longer a box of dry fruits and sonpapdi but a coupon for wine tasting in Sula Vineyards (See!! things over experiences, even managers follow this now). My (laziest) friend R whose mom couldn’t send him to buy a cup of dahi from the local grocery store was now trekking in Rishikesh. Suddenly, there is a huge rush to “gather experiences”. Instagram is full of high resolution images of people’s “experiences”.
The market is a clever b***h. When the market realized that people are now more interested in buying “experiences” than “things”, it turned “experience” into a profitable product. Experience as a product has been there for centuries but its profitability increased manifold recently. These days, walking tours, trekking, homestays, kayaking, hiking, and camping have become popular even among many who are honestly not genuinely into these things. Many are doing it only out of peer pressure and FOMO. Movies like Zindagi na milegi dobara only added to the market rush.
I am a self-confessed minimalist. I have always been a minimalist, even before I knew the term. I believe that we should “gather” experiences. The point where I differ is that I would emphasize “gathering” experiences than “buying” them. I agree that certain experiences should be bought however there is more fun in collecting them than buying them. I would stick to the cliche that “money can’t buy love or happiness“. If you can “buy” a certain experience half the fun would be gone. You can never fill the hollowness and unhappiness in your soul with products or experiences. It can give you a temporary dopamine rush but not permanent contentment.
People who are restless in their search for happiness wouldn’t hesitate to spend millions to buy experiences, like a luxurious yacht ride or asking Shahrukh Khan to dance at their wedding. However, not everyone can afford that. Many people are wasting a lot of money on buying experiences that could have been free of cost. For example, a friend of mine recently went to stay in a village to experience village life. He was spending more money on a village hut than he would have spent on an OYO room. He said after coming back “what an amazing experience, you cannot imagine”. I said, “oye! hello! I grew up in a jungle and married a guy whose parents still live in a village” What you spent money to enjoy, I enjoy for free.
I personally believe that spontaneous experiences are more enjoyable than curated and choreographed experiences. My experience of enjoying raw mango in my grandma’s mango orchard is an experience that even a trillion dollars cannot buy. Walking with my friend Subhalaxmi and getting lost in Shantiniketan’s khoai is again something money couldn’t have bought me. A creepy experience in my friend’s new flat is any day better than a guided haunted house tour. Spending a night at Goa’s beach because we were thrown out of the farmhouse is way better than “experience” of sleeping on a beach bought from some travel agent.
Let me conclude this post with a few lines from an article I read in medium.
To find authentic happiness in our experiences, we need to understand why we’re pursuing them. In a study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, researchers found that people who were intrinsically motivated to spend money on life experiences reported higher levels of fulfillment and well-being than those who did so for extrinsic reasons. Meaning: Sure, go to the “superbloom” if you have a genuine interest in poppies — but it won’t feel as good if you’re just going to get a killer Instagram post.
“We’ve turned experience itself into a product,” writes psychotherapist Nancy Colier in Psychology Today. “No longer ‘in’ life or part of the stream of life, we consume our experiences like we would any other object.” We believe that chasing experiences instead of material things will bring us a deeper sense of emotional fulfillment. But once the initial excitement of an experience subsides, the moment ends up being stashed away in our minds, and it’s on to the next shiny new experience that captures our attention. And the cycle continues.https://forge.medium.com/why-buy-experiences-not-things-is-bad-advice-ba59d6bede7b